Atem Akok provided the spark at the top and a well-rounded effort from down the lineup the fuel as the Perry boys cross country team finished third in the Class A portion of the 11th annual Leon Fox Invitational Oct. 3.
Akok was third overall on the Perry Golf & Country Club circuit in 16 minutes, 37.95 seconds to lift Perry, who had runners finish in places 20, 21, 26 and 42 to score 108 points, edging DC-G (111) for third place. Powerhouse Boone was the easy winner with 31 points, with Creston second at 100.
Ballard (145) was fifth, with Saydel (158), Carlisle (169), ADM (177), Winterset (190), Bondurant-Farrar (248) and Atlantic (280) completing the field.
Boone senior standout Albert Meier demolished the field with a 15:19.56 clocking that, unofficially, is the course record. Fellow Toreador senior Chandler Austin was second in 16:20.96, with Akok running past Creston’s Cooper McDermott in the final 200 meters to claim third place by a margin of less than two seconds.
"Atem ran a great race and was only beaten by the top two ranked runners in the entire state," Bluejay head coach Jeff Fox said. "Overall our top four runners all beat our top finisher from last year … that added depth has really helped this year’s team become more competitive."
Keegan Pfau was 20th in 18:03.24 and Christian Morales 21st in 18:05.24, with Oscar Chavez 26th in 18:16.14. Zach Roberts provided the fifth scorer by crossing 42nd in 18:54.11, his best time on Perry’s home course and a clocking that moved the Jays past the Mustangs in the team standings.
Cole Chance (19:04.09) and Richie Cazares (20:51.11) also ran for the Jays but did not have their results used for the team total.
"Christian is running very well and has closed the gap between himself and Keegan," Fox noted. "Oscar continues to run well and we got a great effort from Zach, too.
"We are probably going to see Creston at the state qualifying meet (the top 10 individuals and top three teams advance to the state meet) and are probably going to need our guys fourth and fifth be just a little bit faster to beat them," he added. "Atem is going to make it, but the whole team can, too, if we can get the kind of effort I know we are capable of. Running hard to make state is a lot more fun than just running for the sake of it and is pretty good motivation."
Panorama won the Class B boys race with 53 points, with Nodaway Valley second at 82 and Ogden third at 96. Roland-Story (117), DM Christian (141), Van Meter (144), Woodward Academy (150), Greene County (167), Madrid (244), Orient-Macksburg (249) and Paton-Churdan (275) also competed.
Ogden’s Trey Thompson won the varsity B side in 17:28.36, with Nodaway Valley’s Brayten Funke (17:58.77) second and Roland-Story’s Spencer Dedic (18:00.56) third.
Familiarity with the course did little to help the Jayettes in the Class A girls varsity race, with the hosts finishing 12th with 297 points. DC-G won with 78 points, with Ballard nipping Creston, 92-94, for second place. Boone (100), Newton (136), Atlantic (147), Carlisle (188), Winterset (188), ADM (221), B-F (238) and Saydel (286) also ran the course.
Ballard’s Abby Kohut-Jackson won in 15:03.03, with DC-G’s Madison Waymire second in 15:26.84 and Boone’s Dianna Slight third in 15:29.79.
Leah Reuter was the first Jayette to cross, placing 32nd in 17:58.04, with Jessie Laughridge 60th in 19:09.43. Ashley McCord (67th, 19:40.97), Taylor Lathrum (68th, 19:43.13) and Aurora Rodriguez (70th, 19:50.06) also scored for Perry.
The hosts did not tabulate the 20:44.81 from Louise Peitz or the 24:15.61 from Irhet Navarrete.
Perry girls head coach Nathan Krohn noted that he was able to find several positives from his squad despite the high finishing totals.
"Leah continues to improve with every race and Jessie is sticking right behind her," he said. "Ashley is staying consistent along with Louise. We had a couple of girls that could not run due to illness but they were very supportive of everyone’s effort."
Nodaway Valley’s Destiny Scar won the girls varsity B race in 15:47.64, with Greene County’s Allison Higgins (16:02.45) second and DMC’s Oksana Covey (16:23.89) third.
Panorama won with 41 points, with Greene County (53), WCV (59), Madrid (101), Roland-Story (118) and SW Webster (136) also in the field.
Three former Jayettes competed for their current schools, with Panorama sophomores Mykenzie and Meredith Olson placing 13th and 18th, respectively, in 17:12.99 and 17:34.81 while W-G junior Josie Baumgartner (running for Madrid) was 42nd in 20:18.86.
Large fields ran in the one-class, unscored junior varsity and two-mile middle school races as well.
David Cardenas (20:55.06), Gerardo Garcia (21:02.65), Swedish exchange student Gustav Winterberg (21:50.63), Steven Guardado (22:54.70) and Fernando Catalan (22:59.92) ran for the Bluejay JV, as did Brody Kimrey (23:18.11), Riley Kimrey (23:37.27), Christian Guardado (25:46.35).
Krohn praised the effort of Jayette freshman Chloe Anderson — the lone Perry girl to run JV — for cutting an impressive five minutes off her previous best time by finishing in 25:54.74.
Zach Thompson was 15th in 13:08.14 for the Perry middle school boys, with Mario Cruz (13:50.54) and Israel Morales (14:27.09) also competing.
Elise Hill led the Jayette middle school quartet with a 15:52.70, with Hannah Roberts crossing in 16:54.45 and Delaney Eiteman in 17:28.56 while Nailea Marquez finished in 20:45.96.